By Lobsang Kyizom
The ordeals in an ordinary student’s life are unfamiliar to not many of minds, I believe. Those realms of time when you are not only expected to learn and explore new things but, somehow, also have them put into practice throughout your real life. But, such as the ones, that a diasporic number of students in exile like the Tibetan students around the world is acquiesced with, almost in a diurnal basis, is however less known and sadly far less understood.
Being informed about the 9th Tibetan College Students’ Conference by a friend was the first step towards this realization. I decided to attend the conference which was to be held in DLIHE, Bangalore intuitively, without a mere second thought.
TCSC is a collaboration of Tibetan students pursuing their higher studies in different parts of India. Ever since its inception in 2006, the conference has been organised annually in different locations across India, solely by the efforts of the students. TCSC has provided a forum for the Tibetan college students to identify with each other, share their experiences and challenges faced as a refugee student and discuss ways to resolve it.
Personally, after getting alienated to a campus in Bangalore with hardly few Tibetans around had long left in me an ensuing effect of putridity upon my national identity. Yet, from the moment, I stepped inside DLIHE, a strange feeling of bliss and belongingness overpowered my whole being as I settled into a familiar atmosphere. The first day of the conference was addressed by Choepa Kyap, the Chief Organiser of the year 2014 and Dr. Bhumo Tsering, The Principal of DLIHE. The opening ceremony witnessed dignitaries like Jigmey Jungney and KS Rangappa, Vice Chancellor, University of Mysore with conferment of Bodkyi Ama Award to Ama Jetsun Pema as a symbol of gratitude for her unbounded contribution to our society and The TCSC Award to MN Rajesh for his support towards the Tibetan cause.
The following days, the students’ representatives from each place had to come up with their presentations on the topics allotted by the organizers. The decree to speak in the mother tongue without getting it alloyed with other languages was made and practiced strictly, emphasizing on the importance of the Tibetan language in the struggle of Tibet and in the survival of Tibetan culture and tradition in exile. Many conscientious participants raised their opinions and suggestions to the benefit of the people, sometimes even with prolonged debate between the two counterparts.
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Along with the interactions, there were days when spokespersons from outside were invited. For instances, Tsering Tsomo, Executive Director of TCHRD and Researcher Thinley Wangtop gave insights on their respective topics. Likewise, a mini workshop on Self Exploration, Career Planning and Effective Presentation Skills by Envision Group was provided. Interactive sessions with resource persons such as Penpa Tsering, speaker of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Ngodup Tsering, Minister of Education and Tsewang Yeshi, President of TCV were held where also certain clauses from the TCSC were presented for the improvisation of the education system in exile.
The Tibetan College Students’ Conference differs from the various other conferences that I have attended in several aspects. Firstly, not most of the conferences are organised and managed exclusively by the students. The most inspirational thing about the conference was the dedication and fervour with which the organising committee consisting of ten student members had the conference managed exceptionally well despite of their other commitments. It reaffirmed to us the boon of working wholeheartedly and in a team.
Secondly, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with other Tibetan students about the difficulties and challenges we face with our mutual situation as a refugee. The sessions were always interesting as students also got to expound their views and approach towards the current situation of Tibet. Even from the countenance, so to say, the look of absorption and enthusiasm in the participants’ faces could draw anyone to the same conclusion. More significantly, many proposals to preserve the Tibetan language were made. Someone raised the question of the rarity of Tibetan translations of international bestselling books and famous literary pieces which indulge the participants into further discussion. For one thing is clear, the modern Tibetan intellects should work more on publishing Tibetan translations of English books than the opposite along with the classical and contemporary Tibetan literatures.
“To annihilate a nation or race, one should annihilate their language” is a popular quote by Mao which is currently being applied by the Chinese government to the Tibetans in Tibet. But we, the Tibetans in exile are most obliged to preserve and promote our language by sanctioning the rights of living in a free world.
The most important impact it had is, it awaken in us, the sense of responsibility towards our country. Until then, I’d have called myself a concerned Tibetan student who, for the most, might have vindicated about the issue of Tibet in some social medias during the sporadic upheavals and incessantly disheartening circumstances pertaining to Tibet. But, no sooner will I have it forgotten too. Not because I want to but because we all have been attuned to react in such ways. It appears to me that for all these years, the majority of the Tibetans have about them a predisposed quality of utmost patience in their struggle for freedom which is indubitably an admirable one. Still, the wait alone seems inadequate to resurrect the lost sovereignty, peace and freedom of our country.
Although the world for their own interest acts ignorant to the constant repercussion of the Tibetans in Tibet, we can’t afford to. It strikes me with what sanguine hope the world awaits tomorrow, if it is so unjustified. Nonetheless, our responsibility is to unveil the blinding panoply of lies with what we call as the might of education.